Just as resumes have undergone a dramatic revolution over the past 25 years, so have thank-you letters. Twenty-five years ago, a resume was a really just a formality - generally a single sheet of paper that briefly listed a candidate’s overall work experience and academic credentials. As the employment market changed, expanded, diversified and became increasingly competitive, so did resumes. Today, they are powerful marketing tools designed to “sell” a candidate’s skills, qualifications, accomplishments and career successes to give a job seeker a “competitive distinction” over other candidates.
The same is true for cover letters. They have evolved from transmittal letters (”Here’s my resume.”) to cover letters (”Here’s my resume, this is why I’m interested in your company and here are a few highlights of my career.”) to marketing communications (”Here’s my resume, some of my most notable achievements and, most importantly, the value I bring to your organization.”) Powerful cover letters now integrate the same concepts as powerful resumes. They are designed to “sell” a candidate and give that individual “competitive distinction.”
Now, as professional resume writers, career coaches, counselors and others in our community, you need to take those same concepts - sales and competitive distinction - and integrate them into the thank-you letters you prepare for your clients. Consider thank-you letters to be “second-tier” marketing communications. Your client has already used his “first-tier” marketing communications (resume and cover letter) to get in the door for an interview. He feels confident, was able to easily establish rapport with the interviewer, and is anxiously awaiting an invitation for a second interview or, perhaps, an offer. He’s excited; you’re excited for him. But, you both know there is competition for the position. What can you do for the client to give him a competitive advantage over the other candidates?
The answer is the thank-you letter - the letter you write for your client that acknowledges the time and consideration of the hiring manager, thanks him, and further expresses your client’s interest in the position. Unfortunately, most (not all) of the other candidates will be doing exactly the same thing.
After the interview is no time to stop selling. In fact, it is precisely the right time to continue selling - your clients’ unique skills, qualifications, accomplishments, credentials and more.
To ensure that your thank-you letters - and YOUR CLIENTS - stand out from the competition, use your letters as marketing communications to further sell your clients into a position. This can be easily accomplished by highlighting any of the following that may be appropriate to a particular client and the specific interview situation:
Using thank-you letters as a “second-tier” marketing tools often dictates that letters be longer than one page. Fine! There are no rules to writing thank-you letters that dictate that they must be one-page long. The only thing that should dictate their length is the amount of valuable information you want to include. If the company has already extended your client the opportunity for an interview, they’re already interested and will, in most cases, carefully read any and all material the client forwards to them - including a powerful, well-worded, sales-directed and competitive thank-you letter.
Here’s an example:
JOSHUA A. VIENS
120 Port Street
Lawrence, Iowa 55441
January 17, 2003
1209 Robert Trent Street
Los Angeles, CA 90045
First of all, thank you. I really enjoyed our conversation yesterday and am completely enamored with the tremendous success you have brought to PYD. There are but a handful of companies like yours that have experienced such aggressive growth and can predict strong and sustained profitability over the years to come.
I would like to be a part of the PYD team - in whatever capacity you feel most appropriate and of most value. I realize, of course, that you already have an HR Director who has successfully managed the function throughout the course of the company’s development. It is NOT my intention to compete with Leslie Ralson, but rather to complement her efforts in bringing renewed HR leadership to PYD.
Let me take a few minutes to highlight what I consider to be my most significant assets:
I have met the challenges of accelerated recruitment:
I have met the challenges of employee retention:
I have met the challenges associated with international HR leadership:
I have met the challenges of growth and organizational change:
I hope that the above information demonstrates the value I bring to PYD - today and in the future. You will also find that my abilities to lead and motivate are strong and have always been the foundation for my personal success.
I look forward to speaking with you and scheduling an appointment to meet with Mr. Baldwin. Again, thank you for your time, your interest and your support.
Joshua A. Viens
Remember, you’re the job search expert, and it is your responsibility to share your expertise with your clients! Job search DOES NOT stop with the interview, but rather continues throughout the entire process until such time as your client is sitting at his new desk in his new position. Thank-you letters are a critical part of the process. Use them wisely and to your clients’ advantage!